According to a COVID Response Tracking Study, 14% of American adults say that they’re very happy, which is down from 31% who said the same in 2018. That year, 23% said they’d often or sometimes felt isolated in recent weeks. Now, 50% feel isolated. These findings raise an important question to both employers and employees: How can you remain happy and hopeful in times of great stress? To help answer this question, last month we hosted our Impact Breakfast entitled Staying Stress-Free and Happy in Today's Workplace and welcomed Carole Redden as our guest speaker and happiness expert.
It is difficult to recognize the behaviors of happy people without knowing what happiness actually means. Of course, our family and friends, fur babies, food, and travel generally make us happy – but what is happiness? The word happiness can be defined as “the experience of joy, contentment, or positive wellbeing, combined with a sense that one’s life is good, meaningful, and worthwhile.” Now, that we understand what happiness means, we can think about what that looks like in action. For example, staying connected with those you care about can help prevent feelings of isolation.
Happy people make an effort to build a strong social fabric. Redden shares how she always walks away feeling great about herself after volunteering her time. In fact, giving back to others is a phenomenal way to support your favorite nonprofit without donating any money. She notes that you can practice gratitude in a number of different ways, such as keeping a mindfulness journal and saying “thank you” to people.
Happy people tend to have an optimistic thinking style. Three ways to reduce pessimistic thinking include: (1) focusing your time and energy on where you have control; (2) knowing that “this too shall pass”; and (3) getting better at compartmentalizing. Redden explains how happy people understand that material wealth is not everything – and the research supports this! Research has shown that the effect money has on happiness is very short-lived. Happy people also prioritize mental and physical health as well as cultivate spiritual emotions and develop healthy coping strategies.
Are you reading this wondering what's in it for you? Why should you intentionally try to be happy? Well, you will smile after reading about all these incredible benefits happy people experience every day in their lives!
Happy people are more social, energetic, charitable, cooperative, and productive at work. They are seen as better leaders and negotiators, especially since happy people are more liked and more likely to be listened to and followed by their peers. This leads to happy people receiving promotions and earning more money. Additionally, stress weakens your immune system; happy people typically have stronger immune systems which helps them be physically healthier and live longer. Some day you may look back on the year 2020 and remember your resiliency and strength. Similarly, happy people are more resilient in the face of challenges because they can self-soothe and recall how they overcame hardships in the past.
Help your team be more relaxed and hopeful and help you cultivate a happier workplace. Make sure you and your team are showing up to work as your best selves. But what can you do as a manager or supervisor? Start your next team meeting by expressing gratitude or celebrating “wins” for things done well. Setting a positive tone will eliminate any negative energy looming in the office.
Another tip Redden mentions is being present in the moment, especially when taking time to connect with others in the workplace. Check in with your co-workers to ask about their lives. Set aside time (it can be a few minutes) to practice mindfulness and add it to your daily schedule. Happy people set SMART (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, and Timely) goals. For instance, if you are a non-runner, then it does not make sense to set a goal of winning your first marathon. It would be better – and make you happier – to go at your pace and set a SMART goal of completing the marathon on X day in under six hours.
Redden recommends using daily affirmations that you can simply write down on a post-it note and recite it in the morning before you begin your day. Attendees were able to see her own post-it note with the words “I am enough” written on it in large letters. Another affirmation that can put you in a positive mindset is: “I am worthy and everything is always working out for me.” Never forget your daily affirmation(s) again by adding it in your cell phone as a recurring reminder once or twice per day.
The struggle to keep a work-life balance is more prevalent in today’s virtual work environment than ever before. Many employees are unsure if they are working from home or living at work. However, it is very possible for employees to still love what they do and for employers to create a meaningful workplace culture in 2020.
Happy people set realistic goals and expectations at work. Remember to take your breaks and lunch even though it’s easy to sit in your home office. Take a walk around the house/block or go grab take-out. While it is critical for your happiness to disconnect with work after work, it is just as essential to ask for help and rely on support from others. Balancing humanity and productivity can result in improved work outcomes.
With so many new challenges and barriers that this year has brought us, it can be difficult to stay happy and stress-free. If you are happier, you are typically less stressed. Surround yourself with positive people to reduce stress. Keep an eye out for stress manifestations. Taking slower, deeper breaths is a useful tool to managing stressful moments. Focusing on intentional activities that increase happiness is a great way to decrease your stress levels.
Staying positive is key to successfully overcoming the challenges of 2020 and inspiring your team to remain happy and hopeful in times of great stress. Being happy does not mean that everything is perfect. It means that you have decided to look beyond the imperfections and create happiness for yourself. In conclusion, happiness is by choice, by effort, and by energy. Choose happiness!
Register today for our next Impact Breakfast Webinar: Navigating Communication in Today’s Workplace to learn more about effective communication strategies!